MCLA NAMES TWO TIGERS AS ALL AMERICANS
Congratulations to Brian Murphy '13 and Charlie Pontiakos '15!
Brian was named 3rd Team All American- Defense
Charlie was named Honorable Mention All American- Face off Specialist
CLEMSON MEN’S LACROSSE PLAYERS HONORED WITH ALL CONFERENCE HONORS
Murphy and Pontiakos earn Player of the Year Recognition
Greenville, SC: Five Clemson men’s lacrosse team members were honored as members on the 2013 SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC) All Conference Team and two were selected as Player of Year at their respective positions.
The SELC consists of 41 teams divided into 2 Divisions, I and II. Twenty teams comprise Division I in which Clemson competes
Senior co-captain Brian Murphy (Bel Air, MD/CM Wright) was selected the 1st team Defense and also recognized as the SELC Defensive Player of the Year. Brian was matched up in each game against the opposition’s leading offensive threat and in every game held his opponent to less than his game average in points. Brian collected 48 ground balls, 2nd on the team and contributed on the offensive end of the field, scoring 4 goals and adding an assist. Brian has been a 4 year member of the All Conference team each of the 4 years he played at Clemson, making Honorable Mention as a freshman and sophomore and 2nd team as a junior.
Sophomore midfielder Charlie Pontiakos(Charlotte, NC/Myers Park)was named to the 1st Team All SELC team as the face-off specialist and was also honored as the SELC Specialty player of the Year for the 2nd consecutive season. Charlie again dominated at the face-off X, winning 163 of 245 draws (.665%). He also led the Clemson team in ground balls with 49. Charlie won identical awards as a freshman in 2012.
Senior attackman James McLoughlin (Long Beach, NY/Long Beach) was named to the 1st team All SELC. James tallied 53 points on 32 goals and 21 assists, averaging 4 points a game despite facing the opponents top defense talent. James also collected 34 ground balls on the season.
Senior midfielder Joe Brandt (Woodbine, MD/Century) was honored on the 2nd Team All SELC squad. Joe led the Clemson midfielders in scoring with 16 goals and 3 assists for 20 points and added 24 ground balls.
Junior midfielder Mike Maher (Baltimore,MD/Loyola Blakefield received Honorable Mention as a short-stick defensive midfielder. This is a position that is not adequately represented by statistics but characterized by strong and consistent defensive play against the opposition’s top offensive midfielders. Mike tallied 1 goal on the season and collected 25 ground balls.
The 2012 Clemson Tigers finished with a 7-8 record while playing a strength of schedule ranked 9th in the nation. Each loss came to teams ranked in the national Top 25 including two 8-7 heartbreakers in overtime to Georgia Tech and Georgia, the two finalists in the SELC Championship game on Sunday, April 28th. Clemson and Georgia Tech went 3 overtimes before reaching a decision and in the opening round of the SELC Playoffs, Clemson and Georgia played deep into the 4th OT before Georgia scored to win the game.
Congratulations to the 2013 Tigers who beat the Gamecocks 11-10 on 4/19/13!!
View the great YouTube video from our weekend in Bel Air, Maryland added 4/24/13:
Listen to Coach Buff Grubb talk about Clemson Lacrosse radio-aired on 10/29/12:
THANKS FOR A GREAT FALL BALL 2012 SEASON!
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Tough Two in Maryland - Apr 22, 2013
TOUGH TWO IN MARYLAND
The Tigers took what looks to be the first annual trip to Maryland this past weekend to face two nationally ranked teams in Connecticut and Michigan State, before an anticipated sizable gathering of alumni, parents, families and friends. The trip lived up to our hopes except for the end results of the two games.
I think the entire team will agree that the 1 ¼ hour flight from Greenville to BWI was preferable to a 10 hour bus ride. Courtesy of Steve Yingling, a bus was waiting to shuttle the team to the hotel upon our arrival at BWI. Happy to say that no luggage was missing or damaged en-route, contrary to last years trip out to Boulder.
The team arrived safely at the hotel about 7:30 to enjoy pizza provided by the Boosters. The coaching staff appropriated a vehicle and went to watch what remained of the Virginia Tech – Connecticut game. We arrived (along with the rain) just after half time and watched a tight game, won by UConn on a late goal when a Tech defender made a nice check on a UConn middie and the ball flew out of his stick, right to an attackman parked on the crease. Result: 8-7 Connecticut.
Before we get to the games, I want to make sure that the people who helped put this weekend together get some of the recognition they deserve. I worked with Jason Bellamy, Athletic Director and Head Coach at Patterson Mill High School to put this together. Jason and Andrew Garrard of C. Milton Wright High School proved to be great hosts and accommodated the teams very nicely. I spoke to Jason after Sunday’s game and he was pleased that 800 tickets were sold. Both Jason and Andrew want us to bring this weekend back to Maryland next spring, and I hope we do.
Within the family, there are a lot of folks to thank. Cindy and Steve Yingling deserve our thanks for setting up hotel and ground transportation. The Homewood Suites was not only convenient but also very accommodating. Lisa Murphy went out of her way again, to provide a great tailgate for the team and families on Saturday morning. I understand that Laura Matusek and Bev Brennan had successful times at the Clemson merchandise booth (building the brand in the Heartland can only be a good thing). It was also an honor to have Laura and Joe’s nephew Timmy Kelly on hand to sing the national anthem before both games; especially in light of Monday’s events at the Boston Marathon. Timmy has sung for the Eagles the past couple of years, so we’re in pretty exclusive company. Nancy and Alex Patch were on hand as was son William, well on his way back from ACL surgery. A BIG shout out to the Colnitis family! Thanks for daring to open their home to our Clemson Lax family Saturday night. We couldn’t have asked for a better setting in which to gather. I hope we haven’t worn out our welcome, should we bring the team back to Maryland in the future.
CONNECTICUT 9, CLEMSON 5
Saturday was a near perfect game day, sunny, slight breeze, not too hot. The team got to sleep in and wake up to a tailgate sponsored by the Boosters. It was attended by quite a few parents and even some long out of touch alumni as well.
We played on a brand spanking new “Next-turf” field at C. Milton Wright High School. I don’t even know if the field had yet to see a football season. Regardless of how nice the surface was, it could not offer any excuse for how the game was played.
Despite (or perhaps due to) their Friday night game, UConn came out on fire early and ran out to a 4-0 lead over the Tigers by the end of the 1st quarter. The Huskies play fast which caught the Tigers by surprise. UConn was clicking and dominating possession and ground balls while their defense was very aggressive, extending out on our attack and harassing them with early slides and doubles.
The Tigers started getting up to speed in the 2nd quarter, and would turn the tide on the Huskies, scoring 3 goals while shutting out UConn. Senior James McLoughlin scored twice for Clemson, one off an assist from middie Joe Brandt. Fellow senior attackman Tom Reddish added a single tally to bring Clemson within 1 at halftime.
The 3rd quarter was a back and forth affair with neither team able to cash in on opportunities. Both defenses dominated the opposing offenses, though Connecticut did break through for a transition goal midway through the period to hold a 5-3 lead after 3.
Unfortunately the Tigers were in familiar territory, “close but no cigar” trying to make up a slim margin or trying to protect one. We’ve been here before, seems like, just about all year. Unfortunately, Clemson could not break the mold this time out.
UConn added a goal about 5 minutes into the 4th to go up 6-3, but the Tigers answered with McLoughlin’s 3rd goal of the day to close to within 2 again. A pair of Husky goals about 30 seconds apart near the 5 minute mark put Tigers in an 8-4 hole with time running out. Senior Joe Brandt rifled a high- hard shot off a helper from McLoughlin, to get the Tigers to 8-5, but UConn finished out the scoring for the game with a late goal to wrap it up at 9-5.
Credit has to be given to this team that even though we didn’t get the “W”, we did fight back from an early deficit and compete. Given how aggressive the UConn defense was, this was an accomplishment by our offense to not wilt under the pressure, especially when down 4-0. Tributes also are due our defense, which once it got settled in held the Huskies at bay for the remaining 3 quarters. Junior goalie Demetrius Murray logged 12 saves on the day. Take away that 1st quarter and it’s a tie game. Unfortunately, that’s not something we can do. You have got to play 60 minutes. It’s never a good thing to dig yourself into a hole early. This team learned this lesson again on Saturday, after Davenport used about the same script the week before. To their credit, the Tigers battled back in both games but come-backs take a lot out of you. Too often you see them fade just when a team has climbed back into it. We made a point to come ready to play on Sunday against Michigan State from the get-go.
Scoring by Quarters;
Clemson 0 3 0 2 5
Connecticut 4 0 1 3 9
Individual Scoring: McLoughlin (3g, 1a), Brandt (1g, 1a), Reddish (1g)
Face-Offs: Pontiakos (5/9; 55.6%), Matusek (3/5; 67.6%)
Saves: Murray: 12 saves, 9 goals allowed: .571%
MICHIGAN STATE 11, CLEMSON 6
Michigan State came into our game off a decisive 15-8 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday evening. MSU broke open a close game in the 3rd quarter to lead at the break by 7-4 and it appears that set the tone for the second half. The Spartans were a MCLA championship tournament team in 2012 and looked to be a strong contender for 2013.
Clemson got on the board first in this one on a goal by senior attackman Tom Reddish. Michigan State rebounded to put 2 on the board to finish the first period up 2-1. Again, the Clemson offense went dormant in the 2nd period while MSU added two tallies to enjoy a 4-1 lead at the half. In just about every game this year, our offense goes non-productive for a quarter or two. VS UConn we were shut out in the 1st and 3rd. That makes it tough to get it back in what time you’ve got left.
MSU added 4 more scores in the 3rd while the Clemson” O” showed some life, posting 2 to send the game into the 4th with the Spartans up 8-3. The teams traded goals in the 4th with each finding net 3 times to get to a final of 11-6 Michigan State.
The finish was not without a bit of drama, as with 20 seconds left we suddenly heard the MSU coach give a “green light” to his offense to go the goal and score despite enjoying a 5 goal lead at that point. What was particularly aggravating was a pre-game conversation I’d had with him on this very subject and how he claimed not to do that. When I asked him about his change of heart in the post-game handshake, his comment was “he needed goals for Greenville.” Fortunately, Alex Branton and the defense denied this last ditch attempt by MSU to pad their lead, with Mike DiRocco adding some emphasis with a solid body check. That MSU player paid the price for his coach’s decision for certain.
Worthy of note is that senior captain defenseman Brian Murphy scored his 4th goal of the season on his old home field. Murph is a graduate of C. Milton Wright.
Scoring by Quarters
CLEMSON 1 0 2 3 6
MICHIGAN STATE 2 2 4 3 11
Individual Scoring: Brennan (2g), Brandt (1g,1a), Ahern (1g), Murphy, B (1g), Reddish (1g)
Face Offs: Pontiakos (8/15; 53.3%) Matusek (3/6; 50%)
Saves: Brennan: 17 saves/11 goals against (.607%)
Closing out our regular season at 6-7 with South Carolina up in the finale is not where we hoped we’d be for certain. What hurts most is the games we let get away; Georgia Tech and Buffalo should have been firmly in the W column. In all of our other losses, we were in the fight until the end and I’m proud of the way this team continues to battle.
We spoke to the team earlier this week about this situation. We didn’t want them to focus on the obvious negatives but look a little deeper to find some perspective. It wasn’t that hard to find some things to hang our hats on:
7 losses by total of 22 goals; average margin of defeat 3 goals. Clemson has competed in every game played.
Each loss has been to a team that is or was ranked in the MCLA Top 25, and 5 of those teams were in the 2012 MCLA National Championship Tournament.
We held every team played to fewer goals than they average on offense. (highlighted by holding UGA to 5 goals, fewer than allowed by #1 Colorado State against the Bulldogs).
Perhaps most significant to recognize is that our Strength of Schedule ranking this year is #11 in the nation. We didn’t dodge any teams for sure. The only team in the SELC with a higher ranking was Virginia Tech, at #8 due to the Hokies taking a Western swing earlier in the season. This is the highest SOS we’ve ever compiled at Clemson.
So, while we’ve come out on the short end more times than we’d like, we know that we have belonged on the field with every team we’ve played this season. Most importantly, we control our own destiny and there are a lot of teams out there that wish they were in our position at this point of the season. We don’t’ have to rely on somebody upsetting somebody else to reach our goals. Those are in our hands and in our grasp, win the SELC and advance to the MCLAs. If that happens, it’s likely we’ll be seeing some familiar faces and foes.
2013 Player Awards
We announced the Player awards at the team cook-out on Saturday night:
Most Valuable Player:
James McLoughlin – Attack
Joe Brandt – Midfield
Brian Murphy – Defense
Demetrius Murray – Goal
Daniel Lentz – Midfield
Mike Maher - Midfield
Andrew Speer – Goal
Gavin Harrison – Midfield
Tommy Conlon - Defense
Patch-Matusek Team Service Awards
In recognition of the service and contributions of Joe and Laura Matusek, we felt it only appropriate to expand the definition of the Service Award to include them along with Alex and Nancy Patch. These folks have all made an indelible contribution to Clemson lacrosse and deserve this commemoration:
Mike Maher – President
Kyle Stinchcomb – Vice President
Lex Smit – Treasurer
Mike Schwartz – Secretary
And last but not least, we’d like to recognize the contributions made by Kevin Murray, Defensive Coach. Kevin will be graduating with his ME Masters this spring and has accepted a position in Madison, WI. We’re grateful to have had his expertise and perspective for this season.
It’s Carolina week and that’s always special. We’re playing on the football practice field and that is a privilege admittedly, a fitting venue for a game of this magnitude.
Even though play-off spots and/or seeding are not at stake this year, there will be no less intensity when these teams mix it up Friday night. First off, its’ simply Gamecocks – Tigers, and we all know what that means! Then there’s the Tigers 6 season winning streak, likely the longest of any team on the Clemson campus these days, dating back to 2007. As one of our players pointed out in practice earlier this week, there’s no one on the team who’s ever lost to USC. Pretty impressive!
However, we have to be aware that the obverse is true on the other sideline. No one on their roster has even defeated the Tigers. We have to recognize that this lights a fire of its’ own, and one that can rival or exceed the one motivating the Tigers. We can rest assured that USC will bring their best to the field on Friday to remove and end that streak.
We also have to be prepared for this basically being South Carolina’s play-off game. The Gamecocks won’t advance to the SELC Championships this year so this is the last opportunity to make an impression.
Doubtless, this’ll be a test for the Tigers. We’ve talked this week about how this is actually our first play-off game. We need to approach it with that attitude and execution. While a defeat would not be terminal, it’s not the kind of momentum we want to carry into Atlanta next weekend for the SELC Championships. I’m hoping the frustration of these close losses will blow up when we face the Gamecocks on Friday.
Judging by past results, it’ll be a close one. Our streak hasn’t come easy. In 2011 on this same field it took the Tigers to double OT to edge the ‘Cocks 8-7. Last year, we saw a 6-1 lead worn down to a 6-6 tie with about 3 minutes left. Middie Dan Heuttenmoser’s invert goal with 14 seconds left saved the day for the Tigers and hushed the partisan Gamecock crowd. Expect more of the same this time around.
Game Recaps and a Look Forward to SELC Championships - Apr 12, 2013
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED DESPITE MIXED RESULTS
The primary goal of our 3 game weekend sweep into North Carolina and Virginia was to lock down our spot in the SELC Championships in Atlanta the end of this month by winning our Friday night game with region rival Wake Forest. Following that game we faced long-time rival Virginia Tech and #16 Davenport and while wins would be nicer than losses, those games would have no impact on our post-season.
A loss Friday night to Wake would have put us in a position of winner take all going into our season ending finale vs. South Carolina. You never want to add any more motivation or complexity to a rivalry game, they’re wild cards enough as it is. Fortunately, when we gear up for the Gamecocks, that’s all we need to focus on now that we’ve taken care of business in advance.
With our win over Wake, Clemson earned its’ 4th consecutive NorthEast Region Championship and the region’s #1 seed in the SELC play-offs. It looks like we would be matched in first round against the #2 seed from the SouthWest Region which would come from Georgia, Georgia Tech, or Auburn, depending on how the final regional games in the SW play out. UGA is currently #1 in the SW at 3-0, followed by Tech and Auburn at 3-1. Tech is the most vulnerable, having lost their head to head game with Auburn and facing a must win scenario in season finale vs UGA to have a chance to advance.
If we win our first game, we will face the winner of the Florida State vs. #2 NorthWest Seed which looks to be Richmond in the semi-finals. But that’s enough looking too far down the road. For now, we accomplished one of our primary goals for the 2013 season and that was to qualify for the SELC championships. Congratulations to the 2013 Tigers are in order, but the job is by no means done.
Clemson 10, Wake Forest 4
The Tigers arrived at Kentner Stadium in Winston Salem after a lengthy trip from Clemson, slowed by an accident near Gaffney and then Friday afternoon traffic outside of Charlotte. Fortunately the shortened warm up period didn’t slow the Tigers as they ran to a 10-4 win over playoff-bound Wake Forest.
Clemson took control early with the defense dominating the Deacon offense and the Tiger offense clicking its way to a 4-0 lead at the end of quarter #1. Clemson added 2 more in the 2nd quarter while the Wake offense gained some traction, posting 3 to send the game into the half at 6-3 Clemson.
The Tigers reasserted their dominance throughout the 2nd half, outscoring the Deacons 3-1 in the 3rd to head into the 4th with a healthy 9-4 lead. The Clemson defense, keyed by Demetrius Murray’s 21 saves on the night, finished where they started by blanking Wake in the 4th while the offense notched another goal to finish it out 10-4.
Scoring by Quarter
Clemson 4 2 3 1 10
Wake Forest 0 3 1 0 4
Individual Scoring: Brennan (2g), Dybus (2g), Ahern (1g,1a), Brandt (1g,1a), McLoughlin (1g,1a), Chase (1g), B. Murphy (1g), Smith (1g), Haile (1a), Luttrell (1a)
Face offs: Pontiakos: (11/16 (.6875%)
Saves: Murray: 21 saves/4 goals against ( .840%)
- Junior defenseman Harry Luttrell notched a point in his 2nd consecutive game with an assist at Wake to go with game opening goal vs. Georgia.
- Senior defenseman and co-captain Brian Murphy scored a goal to bolster the defense’s contributions to the offense.
- Sophomore midfielder Brian Chase (whose brother starts for the Deacon football team) scored his first goal of the season on an interception of a clearing pass and break to the goal.
- Junior goalie Demetrius Murray recorded the highest save percentage of the season at .840, notching 21 saves while allowing just 4 goals.
- Clemson lacrosse alum and former All Conference goalie, Brett Becker is a law student at Wake and an assistant coach with the Deacon lacrosse team. His classmate and fellow All SELC keeper, Ian Thompson is the Tiger’s goalie coach.
VIRGINIA TECH 12, CLEMSON 10
After the clinching win over Wake, the Tigers boarded the bus for Blacksburg, VA. It was a pretty quiet ride for Clemson’s long time bus driver, Porter Huskey, but the late start time plus grabbing a bite to eat didn’t put us into Blacksburg until 2 am Saturday morning. Fortunately, our game with VT didn’t face off until 3 pm so the team had the opportunity to sleep in Saturday morning.
For those who did get up, there was good reason to do so as the Clemson Boosters hosted a tailgate at the hotel at 11 am. Spearheaded by Lisa Murphy and Cindy Yingling, the tailgate had to be relocated and rescheduled as the game location had been changed due to 7” of snow in Blacksburg 2 days before. We would play both Tech and Davenport on a nice next-turf field at Salem High School, about 20 miles north up Interstate 81.
The Clemson – Virginia Tech lacrosse rivalry continues to build a healthy respect between the two programs. For the past 4 or 5 years, every game, fall or spring, has been close and competitive. In 2012, the Tigers lost a heartbreaking 11-10 decision to the Hokies at home and VT moved on the claim the 2012 SELC Championship. The 2013 edition of the regular season continued the tradition as the lead went back and forth all game until Tech pulled ahead in the 4th to win 12 -10.
The Hokies got on the board early and pushed out to a 3-0 lead but the Tigers responded to tie it at 3 before the 1st period wrapped up with Tech up 5-4. The teams traded goals throughout the 2nd period and the first half ended with the Hokies up by that single goal.
The Clemson D tightened up after halftime and limited Tech to a single goal in the 3rd while the Tiger O answered with two to finish the 3rd tied at 9 each. The Tigers scored early in the 4th to take a 10-9 lead but then momentum turned in favor of the Hokies along with a hot keeper and VT hit for 3 goals to get the 12-10 win.
The Tigers hung tough throughout despite their 2nd game in under 24 hours and the game was one of those that could have gone either way. Tough as it is to lose, it may well be our turn should the two teams meet in the play-offs.
Scoring by Quarter:
Clemson 4 3 2 1 10
Virginia Tech 5 3 1 3 12
McLoughlin (2g,3a), Ahern (2g,1a), Brennan (2g,1a), Reddish (2g), Brandt (1g), Harrison (1g), Pontiakos (1a)
Face-offs : Pontiakos 16/23 (.696%)
Saves: Branton (9 saves/12 goals allowed ( .439%)
- The Clemson attack provided the fireworks on offense totaling 8 of 10 goals and 4 assists for the game.
- Joe Brandt continued his scoring streak, scoring once.
Davenport 16, Clemson 12
The Tigers took the field for the 3rd time in 2 ½ days to face a new foe in #16 Davenport University. Davenport moved up from MCLA DII this season and was a semi-finalist in the DII national play-offs last season. The Panthers had defeated Virginia Tech on Friday night 13-8, scoring 7 goals in the 4th quarter. Compared to Clemson, they were well rested, enjoying a day off on Saturday and also had the advantage of being able to scout the Tigers-Hokies game the day before.
Davenport showed probably the most effective offense the Tigers had seen all season. The Panthers moved the ball extremely quickly and well, rotating ahead of the slide and getting quality shots. Demetrius Murray saw plenty of rubber heading his way throughout the game, facing 48 shots and making 17 saves.
The first quarter saw Davenport jump on top 2-0 before the Tigers responded with 3 straight to go up by 1. The Panthers knotted the score on a last second shot the Murray got his stick on but rolled off and trickled over the goal line.
The second quarter was one of those times when the Tigers were their own worst enemy. A couple of questionable personal foul calls were further hurtful by two conduct calls on Clemson players. It did seem that the Virginia officials were a bit more thin-skinned than what we were used to. I think there was a total of 4 conduct calls in this game alone with Davenport getting 2 in the 2nd half and a bench warning given to both Va Tech and Clemson the day before that was entirely undeserved by either team.
Regardless, man up is not an opportunity you want to give to a slick passing team like Davenport. The Panthers took full advantage, racking up 6 goals during the period vs. 2 for the Tigers to enjoy a 9-5 advantage at the break. A mid-period time out by Clemson seemed to get the Tigers re-focused and Clemson’s goals were the final two of the period, rallying the team from a 9-3 deficit at its’ worst.
Still, we had to wonder if the team had anything left in the tank what with 3 games under their belt and knocked back on their heels by the Davenport offense. The Tigers dug deep and came back out in the 3rd determined to climb back into this one.
And that they did, outscoring Davenport 4-2 in the 3rd to reduce the deficit to 2 goals at 11-9 and making it clear to the Panthers they were still in a game. The Tigers kept the pressure on even despite 2 successive pipe shots that could have tied the score if they’d found net. That 2 goal deficit was something the Tigers couldn’t climb out of but saw a lot of. Davenport would score to go up by 3 and Clemson would answer to bring the differential back to 2. Late in the 4th Davenport was again up by 3 at 14-11 and held that margin to the final minute. At that point, we expected them to try to kill the clock but they attacked the goal and scored to make it 15-11. Clemson responded as right off the face-off Joe Brandt fired a blistering shot past the Davenport keeper to make it 15-12. Unfortunately, Clemson couldn’t control the last face-off and were forced to go to a take-away defense; the Panthers added another goal on an empty net in the final seconds to finish it 16-12.
Scoring by Quarter
Clemson 3 2 4 3 12
Davenport 3 6 2 5 16
Individual Scoring: McLoughlin (5g,2a), Brandt (3g), Reddish (3a), Ahern (1g,1a), Brennan (1g,1a), Johnson (1g), Rossi (1g)
Face Offs: Pontiakos: 19/30 (.633%)
Saves: Murray: 17 saves/16 goals allowed (.515%)
- Senior co-captain James McLoughlin hit a season high of 7 points on 5 goals and 2 assists, giving him 43 points on the season (24 goals, 19 assists) and a 4.3 points per game average to lead the Tiger offense.
- Senior Tom Reddish had a hat trick of assists with 3, a career high.
- Joe Brandt hit for 3 goals to record a hat trick and keep his scoring string intact.
The Tigers travel to northeast Maryland this weekend to face two more ranked teams in #12 Michigan State and #20 Connecticut. That gives us 5 ranked opponents over the last 6 games, talk about a trial by fire.
Though at first glance our season record of 6-5 appears to be disappointing, one has to do a little digging to qualify things. Those 5 losses have all come at the hands of teams that were or are ranked in the Top 25 and come by a grand total of 13 goals. The biggest margin of defeat for the Tigers this season has been 4 (twice – Buffalo and Davenport). With a few different bounces, that record could be quite a bit different.
What is key is we have to keep our perspective and keep stepping up to the plate. We’ve competed with every team on our schedule and have lost more than our share of the close ones. Hopefully, that worm will turn as we head down the home stretch, starting this weekend.
Our route to the MCLA National Championships still runs through the SELC Championships and we are very much alive. This is my 19th year coaching in the SELC and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the league race as wide open as it is this year. No team has set themselves apart to date. Georgia has the gaudiest record at 10-1 but fell to the Tigers. Virginia Tech got by us in a 2 goal game but lost to South Carolina. Georgia Tech was hot early, including a 3OT win over Clemson but has cooled off, losing 2 in a row to Auburn and North Carolina State and is in danger of missing the SELC play-offs. Wake Forest has 1 goal wins over SC and NCSU to get into the play-offs but lost decisively to the Tigers. Florida State leads the most southern teams but has lost to Georgia and Virginia Tech. The other most likely playoff contenders are Auburn, Richmond, and Central Florida, none of whom have unblemished records.
We’re confident that we can match up with any of those teams and look forward to contending in late April in Johns Creek and returning to the championship game again.
However, we do have work to do before the “2nd season” kicks in. We’re excited to bring MCLA lacrosse to the lacrosse heartland and also within easy reach of our loyal parents and boosters. We appreciate the efforts of Jason Bellamy, lacrosse coach and athletic director at Patterson Mill High School, for all the leg work he’s dedicated to making this weekend happen. We look forward to seeing everyone at the games and the team gathering on Saturday night.
And then its Carolina week; nuf sed.
Alumni Perspective on Life! - by Bobby Leitholf - Apr 2, 2013
Following is a letter to the coaches sent by Bobby Leitholf, Class of 2012. Amazing perspective on life!
Clemson Lacrosse in Atlanta: A Tough, Cold Weekend - Mar 6, 2013
CLEMSON LACROSSE IN ATLANTA: A Tough, Cold Weekend
Last Friday afternoon, the Clemson lacrosse team boarded a bus bound for Atlanta for our first road trip of the season. It was great to see Porter Huskey at the wheel again this season, a great driver who has now navigated our team throughout the southeast for probably 4 or 5 years. Some things never change.
We were scheduled to play Georgia Tech at 7:30 pm on Friday and then the University of Pittsburgh at noon on Saturday. The weather didn’t do us any favors as temps hovered in the high 30s with gusting winds and flurries. To think that the Pitt team rode a bus for 11 hours to find this weather is a tough one (especially since they play their home games indoors).
We knew coming in that the level of competition for the weekend would be quite a bit higher than earlier in the season. Georgia Tech was 5-2 with some solid wins over Tennessee and the like with a tough 2 goal loss to Virginia Tech. Pitt was ranked 9th in the country and undefeated. On top of that, the Tigers were coming off a weekend with no game. The last time Clemson lined up for real was the East Carolina game back on February 16th. The Tigers had also lost several days of practice after the ECU game due to weather closing the club sports fields. To date, we have yet to have a week with 4 practices in a row.
GEORGIA TECH 8, CLEMSON 7 (3OT)
In what would become a marathon, Tech and Clemson battled for almost 3 hours on that chilly Friday night. Joe Brandt put Clemson on the board with a scorching shot about halfway through the first period. Tech answered quickly to tie it up at 1 and then added another goal to go into 2nd quarter with a 2-1 lead. The Tigers quickly erased that deficit on goals by James McLouglin, another by Brandt, and then by Gavin Harrison with about 30 seconds left in half to put the Tigers up 4-2 at the break.
McLoughlin added his second marker of the game 5 minutes into the 3rd off an assist by Tom Reddish to stretch the Clemson lead to 5-2. The rest of the quarter saw the momentum swing over to the home team as Tech scored 3 consecutive goals to knot it up at 5 at the end of 3.
Georgia Tech’s good fortune continued as they capitalized on a rebound goal to take a 6-5 lead early in the 4th before middie Steve Dybus, off a helper by Brandt, evened the score at 6 each.
James McLoughlin had the “dirty” goal of the night with about 4 minutes left when he drove around the right side of the cage, split a double team and as he was falling away from the cage, stuck a shot under the top bar to put the Tigers back on top 7-6. The lead held until just about the 1 minute mark when Tech scored to even the count and send the game to OT.
Both teams had several scoring opportunities as the OTs began to mount up. Clemson came very close on a no look shot that deflected off the Tech keeper’s helmet (I still don’t think he saw the shot, just a matter of a “right time , right place” save). Demetrius Murray, who’d gone all the way for the Tigers in cage, turned back successive attempts by the Tech offense. Murray logged 15 saves in a valiant effort on the night.
Well into the 3rd overtime, the Tigers “turned it over” on a shot deemed a pass by the officials (though they admitted our player was in the act of shooting when he was checked). Tech cleared successfully and launched a shot at Murray that was saved. Demetrius looked to his right to see Brian Murphy open for the outlet pass but unfortunately, Murphy lost the ball in the lights and the pass went out of bounds, and the ball went to Tech. On the inbounds, Tech got a middie clear about 10 yards above the cage and he was able to wind up and rifle a shot over Murray’s shoulder to end the marathon in Tech’s favor 8-7, for Tech’s first win over Clemson since 2007.
Any overtime loss is tough to take, to come so close and then to walk away empty. It’s even more painful when you give up a 3 goal lead and then find yourself in sudden death and the other team has the momentum of the come-back working in their favor. I’m proud of how this team battled throughout. We were definitely rusty early on as Tech carried the possession and trumped us on ground balls, but we came to life in the 2nd and first half of the 3rd and played at a level that Tech couldn’t match. Unfortunately, we couldn’t sustain that quality and to their credit, Tech fought back into it.
Our concern was how we would bounce back against a nationally ranked team in Pitt, given we had a total of about 12 hours to rest and recoup.
Clemson 1 3 1 2 0 0 0 7
Ga. Tech 2 0 3 2 0 0 1 8
Scoring: Brandt (2g,1a), McLoughlin (2g,1a), Brennan (1g), Dybus (1g), Harrison (1g)
Saves: Murray: 15saves/ 8 goals allowed; .656 save percentage
Face Offs: Pontiakos: 14/21 (.667%)
PITT 8, CLEMSON 6
We returned to the field at Georgia Tech just about 12 hours after departing the evening before and in similar conditions of temps in the 30’s, wind gusts, flurries. There were some stiff ballplayers trying to stretch it out before the game.
The game was back and forth for the full 60 minutes. Pitt got out to an early 2-0 lead but the Tigers answered back, tying it at 2 and then pushing on to gain a 2 goal advantage at half time. Pitt came back to several times make it a 1 goal game, but the Tigers held the lead into the 4th quarter when Pitt got the equalizer. An ill -advised clearing pass to the center of the field was intercepted by Pitt who cashed in for the go ahead goal with about 3 ½ minutes left in the game. The Panthers added an insurance goal on an empty netter with 9 seconds left for the 2 goal final margin. Alex Branton went the distance vs the Panthers and turned in a sterling 14-save effort. James McLoughlin led the Tigers offensively with 4 goals in a performance that dominated Pitt’s much heralded attackman Tyler Novotny.
Lots to be proud of with this team and the effort they gave on such short notice. It would have been easy to fold our tent, given the marathon we’d played the night before and its result, but the guys stepped up, giving Pitt everything they could handle and, for a good part of the game, more than they could handle. A look at the box score is pretty illuminating. For 3 quarters, Clemson held Pitt to 4 goals. In the 4th, Pitt punched in 4. To me, that reads a lot about a team wearing down. Sure the schedule didn’t do us any favors with 2 important games in less than 24 hours, but that’s not an uncommon interval in the MCLA. Our takeaway lessons: to be better prepared for fast turnarounds and to be able to hold the fort.
Again, we failed to close the deal when we had the lead and the momentum. It’s hard to imagine a more frustrating scenario for the second game in a row. When we play well, we can match up with anyone, but we’ve yet to figure out how to sustain that for 60 or 60+ minutes. You can count on that being something we focus on this week in practice, upping our conditioning and looking for more guys to step up and share the load. I think the 2 weeks mostly-off hurt us, both in terms of continuity and in conditioning. We didn’t have that extra spurt we needed to turn back the other team, which resulted in getting tired and making mistakes which opened the door for a comeback.
We knew we would learn a lot about ourselves this weekend, and that’s true. Nice thing is in the big picture, we learned a lot of good things about our heart and determination. Now we just have to recommit to working on consistent execution, and we’ll be okay. I don’t like seeing our assist to goal ratio fall off, but that’s also something we can work on while we get ready for Boston University this Saturday.
NOTE: Game time has changed to 2 pm on Saturday afternoon from 7:30 pm as originally scheduled. Location remains the same at the Lower Club Fields.
Final note: One thing nice about visiting Atlanta is getting to see alumni like Will Fochtmann and Brian Livingston as well as parental alumni such as Susan Fochtmann and Scott and Jane Livingston. Good to see them and a big thanks on behalf of the players to all the parents and family that perservered through some tough conditions this weekend.
Clemson 2 2 2 0 6
Pitt 2 1 1 4 8
Scoring: McLoughlin (4g), Ahern (1g), Harrison (1g), Brennan (1a), Reddish (1a)
Saves: Branton: 14 saves/ 8 goals against (.636 save percentage)
Face Offs: Pontiakos: 10/18 (56%)
Before we get to talking about the games this year, I’d like to give props to our Clemson family. This past weekend was the 2013 Parents’ Weekend and despite coming early in the season and in the cold (and snow!) of February, we welcomed an impressive 41 of 59 players’ families to campus. That commitment by our families is startling and has an immediate benefit to our players. Looking out over the 160 people in attendance at the team banquet on Saturday was a humbling experience, observing how many people are invested in this program enough to journey through winter weather to share a weekend together. I defy anyone to describe this program as “only” club. Thank you all!
Now, back to the season:
LIMESTONE 14, CLEMSON 3
On Super Bowl Sunday (GO RAVENS!), the Tigers scrimmaged 2012 NCAA DII National Finalist Limestone at the Kroc Center in downtown Greenville. Veteran players and parents will remember the Kroc as the site of our decisive 10-3 victory last year over Florida State. Unfortunately, we had a different result this time out.
The Tigers ran pretty well with the Saints for the first half, going into intermission down 5-2 and tied at the end of the 1st 1-1. However, the 2nd half told a different story as Limestone found their stride and dominated Clemson to pull away to a 14-3 win. It was an interesting weekend for Limestone as they had scrimmaged Duke the day before. I don’t know the Limestone roster well enough to know for sure, but my suspicion is that they rested their starters for the first half and then brought them out for some PT in the 2nd half.
Prior to the game, we told the team that regardless of the scrimmage results we would be a better team which proved to be true. We saw that when we were fresh, we could hold our own, but as we got worn down a bit and also worked our way deeper into the bench, we lost that edge and Limestone certainly was capable of taking advantage of it.
We got hurt a number of times on transition, aggravated by still learning how best to adjust to the new substitution rules for 2013 as well as by the coaching staff figuring out how best to manage the sideline. Limestone exploited us on transition when we tried to sub off as in the past to get our LSM and D mids on, resulting in too many man advantage unsettled situations.
Defensively, we matched up well on 1 on 1s on the outside, but once the Saints started spinning the ball, we’d get our first slide but the second often was late, giving them time and opportunity in tight on the crease to finish.
Offensively, we struggled to get any kind of rhythm going and turned in too many “one and done” opportunities. We also gave the ball back to the Saints too quickly, especially in the second half.
All in all, a valuable experience for us. We learned a lot about ourselves and that is always a win.
CLEMSON 7, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 6
The Tigers opened the 2013 season against the same team we played in 2012, the NCSU Wolfpack. There’s nothing like kicking things off with a regional game right off the bat. NCSU is one of 4 games that will determine if we advance to the SELC play-offs (the others being Wake Forest, East Carolina, and South Carolina), making it a very important match-up with a lot at stake. It’s difficult to regroup from a regional loss in the SELC, and we certainly didn’t want to lose control of our own destiny one game into the season.
The Tigers got off to a quick start in the first quarter, going up 4-1 and dominating time of possession, shots, face-offs, etc. Senior co-captain James McLoughlin had the hot hand early, assisting fellow senior TJ Ahern on the first Tiger goal and then freshman Chris Mauro on goal #2 a little over a minute later. Sophomore JP Brennan added a goal off an Ahern helper to push the lead to 3-0 followed by a Steve Dybus score on McLoughlin’s 3rd assist of the period. Nice thing in my eyes about this quarter offensively was that every goal was assisted.
The Tigers could have done a lot more damage if they hadn’t run into a hot NCSU keeper. Though we hit for 4, the total could have been twice as high; our defense kept the Wolfpack offense quiet and generated a heap of turnovers which the offense turned into quality opportunities only to be turned away by the ‘Packs’ senior keeper. I think this had a big impact on the rest of the game.
Clemson’s offensive frustration grew in the 2nd quarter as the Tigers were shut out. It was evident that as the period went on, we were pressing more and more and getting away from what worked so well early. We weren’t playing for quality but taking the first marginal opportunity we would get to force a feed or a shot. Fortunately, the defense stayed strong, limiting NCSU to a single goal mid way through the period and sending the teams into the half with Tigers up 4-2.
Senior middie Joe Brandt opened the scoring two minutes into the 3rd with a blistering shot to the corner that tore the net and came out the backside. After a moment’s hesitation, the officials rightfully signaled the goal which was confirmed by the hole in the net. Repairs followed before the game could continue. NCSU answered about a minute later to keep the margin uncomfortably close at 5-3. Late in the quarter, Dybus spied McLoughlin on the backside of the crease on an extra man opportunity and James canned the shot to push the Tiger lead to 6-3. Again, the ‘Pack responded, scoring a minute later on a shot that looked to bounce weirdly across the face of the goal. The officials ruled it had crossed the line, and the score stood at 6-4, end of 3rd.
NCSU closed to within one 3 minutes into the 4th, and the Tigers buckled down to stem the ‘Pack momentum. The game was scoreless for the next 10 minutes while the Clemson defense locked down the NCSU offense and the Tigers struggled on the other end of the field to finish opportunities. Clemson goalie junior Alex Branton ended the game with 10 saves and several came in this critical session when NCSU was pressing to the cage. Clemson lost the lead for the first time all game with a little under 3 minutes remaining when NCSU scored to knot it up at 6 all. Crunch time is putting it mildly. Fortunately, the Tigers capitalized with under two minutes left when Ahearn caught an over the shoulder feed from middie Gavin Harrison and shot it past the ‘Pack keeper to put Clemson up 7-6. The Tigers were able to hold off NCSU the rest of the way to escape with a narrow but hard-earned critical win.
Clemson 4 0 2 1 7
NCSU 1 1 2 2 6
Scoring: McLoughlin (1g, 3a), Ahern (2g,1a), Dybus (1g,1a), Brandt (1g), Brennan (1g), Mauro (1g), Harrison (1a)
Saves: Branton: 10 saves, 6 goals allowed/ .625 save percentage
Face offs: Pontiakos (10/16; .625 win percentage
CLEMSON 12, PURDUE 10
Two days later, the Tigers hosted the Purdue Boilermakers on the upper intramural field. Purdue had lost a one point game the day before to NCSU and watching the two teams showed how remarkably how similar the Wolfpack and the Boilermakers are. The end result of the game between the Tigers and Purdue proved the accuracy of that observation.
Again, the Tigers were fast out of the gate offensively, pulling out to a 5-1 lead at the end of the first. The teams exchanged goals in the 2nd quarter to go in at half with Tigers up 6-2. We were hoping the Tigers would come out to start the 2nd half and put this one away, but the Boilermakers had different ideas and outscored Clemson 3-2 in the period to head into the 4th trailing 9-6. Purdue won the 4th quarter 4-3 but the early lead held up for the Tigers to give them a pole to pole 12-10 win.
Senior Tom Reddish stepped in on attack for James McLoughlin who had aggravated a knee injury vs. NCSU and finished with a goal and 3 assists. Senior TJ Ahern also netted a goal and trio of assists. Sophomore JP Brennan added a goal and an assist. Freshman Mike Stormo’s first goal as a Tiger and sophomore Matt Johnson’s assist completed the attack contribution to the day.
It was a productive day offensively for Clemson midfielders as the middies tallied 8 goals. Junior middie Connor Haile struck for two goals while Gavin Harrison provided a goal and an assist. Single tallies were notched by Joe Brandt, Steve Dybus, Dan Imperiale, Nick Rossi, and Steve Smith.
Defensively, the Tigers played well, especially early. We knew Purdue had an attackman who had produced Buechele/Patch numbers of over 70 points in 2012, and our close D kept him in check most of the day. He did start to solve our defense late in the game and did lead the charge for the Boilers, totaling 6 goals on the day, as they tried to rally. Our middie D, particularly our LSMs dominated the Purdue midfield and limited their production throughout the game. The Tigers got solid play in net from both Demetrius Murray (8 saves/ 5 goals) and senior Andrew Speer (7 saves/5 goals).
Clemson 5 2 2 3 12
Purdue 1 2 3 4 10
Scoring: Ahern (1g,3a), Reddish (1g,3a), Haile (2g), Brennan (1g,1a), Harrison (1g,1a), Brandt (1g), Dybus (1g), Imperiale (1g), Rossi (1g), Smith (1g), Stormo, (1g), Johnson (1a)
Saves: Murray: 8 saves/ 5 GA; .615 save %; Speer: 7 saves/5 GA; .583 save %
FaceOffs: Clemson: 16/20 (.80 win %); Pontiakos (15/18; .833 win %), Smit (1/2; .500 win %)
Nice to get off to fast starts but we need to learn how to maintain that level of play. As we advance into the season, we’ll be facing teams that will take advantage of any lulls in our play. We need to learn to be consistent, appreciate what works, and stick with it. It’s also nice to see so many guys contributing to Clemson scoring, 19 goals total in two games with 13 different players getting in the act. If we can cultivate this balance on offense, we’ll be hard to defend. Another stat I’m fond of is the assist to goal ratio; vs NCSU it was 6 of 7 (86%); vs Purdue 9/12 (75%), overall 15/19 (79%). A ratio like that tells me we are playing team offense, rather than relying on isolations and winning one on one match-ups. These are all good signs. I like the balance we’re showing offensively and also the depth with guys like Tom Reddish filling in for James McLoughlin with the offense not missing a beat. Sophomore Matt Johnson is stepping up and making some nice contributions as well.
At the midfield, this weekend was a sort of coming out for senior Joe Brandt with 3 goals in 2 games. Joe’s got the hardest shot on the team and put it to good use in the first two games. If it doesn’t find net, at the very least it gets the keeper’s attention in a big way. New addition Gavin Harrison had a good debut, assisting on the game winner vs NCSU and adding a couple of points vs Purdue. Connor Haile produced a multipoint game over the weekend as did Steve Dybus. Defensively, Mike Maher and Daniel Lentz have emerged as our go-to short stick defenders.
Defensively, we look sound and deep as expected. At close defense, I feel as if we basically have 6 starters which is huge. Right now our intent is to rotate by units, keeping guys fresh and by subbing as units, we hope to retain the cohesion within each unit. “First out of the box” guys Brian Murphy, Matt Hogue, and freshman Tommy Conlon played well and were matched by the next group of Kyle Matusek, Harry Luttrell and freshman Andre Monitto. Nice thing is that’s not the end of the potential contributors at the defensive end, being blessed with a lot of quality and depth there. We’re also showing well at LSM, good depth and competition between veterans like Andrew Paradise and Matt McMillan and relative youngsters Andrew Carek and Jason Moustafa. Fortunately, our goalies are of equal quality to the defense in front of them with everyone fighting for and deserving of time in the cage.
The biggest key going forward is consistency of effort, playing 60 minutes at a high level, and not taking any time off. If we can manage that, we’ll be in good shape. We’ll only get to know each other better and better as the season advances, so I expect the cohesion and continuity at both ends of the field to continue to improve. We just need to execute at a high level game in game out, period in period out.
We also need to be able to maintain the performance on the field as we reach deeper into our bench. We have a big bench that has an awful lot of potential. In many cases, there’s not much difference separating starters from guys deeper in the depth chart. All the coaches want to maximize every player’s opportunity to contribute, but we need to be able to be confident that the team’s performance on the field stays consistent. Our hope is we will see our younger guys earn and embrace the opportunity to contribute as the season progresses.
CLEMSON 12, EAST CAROLINA 4
Despite the weekend before when we enjoyed temps in the mid 60s, we hosted ECU for Parents’ Weekend with temps in high 30s, gusting winds and snow showers. Our apologies to the folks who came south expecting a break from the winter. I felt particularly bad for the Paradises who had to deal with 36” of snow the weekend before in Scituate, MA. You can run but you cannot hide sometimes.
This game also saw the debut of two new “super” tents donated to the team by Pat and Deb Conlon, parents of Captain Ryan Conlon. At 10 x 20’ each with eye-catching white Clemson Tiger paws and lacrosse sticks on Clemson orange background, these mega-canopies definitely make quite the statement on the sideline and offered more than adequate coverage for the tailgate provided by the Boosters. Thank you, Conlons!
Between the good food and the need to apply helmet decals, I can’t say we had the most focused team on the field for the face off vs. ECU. East Carolina is a program that has struggled in recent years but does have some successful history back about 8 years ago when they were dominant as a Division II team. Upperclassmen’s parents could not help but recognize that ECU has made great strides from 2 or 3 years ago when they showed up for Family Weekend with half a team and less equipment. This year they had a full squad and played hard which is good to see. That said, this was yet another regional game which we both wanted and needed to win.
I’d like to thank two guys who came for Family Weekend and got thrust into harm’s way. Kenny Maher and Bobby DiRocco got drafted to work the table and keep time and stats for the game. I much appreciate you guys stepping up and taking one for the team.
The Tigers were slow out of the box this time, grinding out a 2-0 lead at the end of the 1st and the second goal barely snuck by the Pirate keeper as time ran out. James McLoughlin pushed to the goal and as the seconds dwindled flipped a blind behind the back pass to the crease. Mike Maher snatched the ball out of mid air and flicked a shot into the corner of the net literally as the clock wore down.
Clemson extended their lead to 5-0 at halftime and you could sense things were getting in gear. Early on in the 3rd, ECU scored twice to get on the board but the Tigers answered with 4 goals in the period and added 3 while allowing 2 more to ECU in the 4th to finish game at 12-4.
The Clemson attack contributed 7 goals on the day, led by McLoughlin’s 3 goals and 3 assists. Joe Brandt fired up 2 goals along with the solo tally by Maher and an assist by Haile to account for the midfield scoring. Even the “poles” and the keepers got into the act, with defensemen Brian Murphy and Matt Hogue each scoring a goal and goalie Andrew Speer assisting on a Greg Yingling goal.
Goalie Alex Branton pitched a shut out while accumulating 4 saves in about a half of action. Sophomore Zach Upton had 2 stops while Speer equaled his assist total with a save on the day.
Only down note on the day was a foot injury to senior midfielder Dan Imperiale. We’re not sure yet the extent of the injury but I’m afraid it’s serious and could be season-ending. You always hate to see a senior finish his career like this.
Clemson 2 3 4 3 12
ECU 0 0 2 2 4
Scoring: McLoughlin (3g,3a), Brandt (2g), Ahern (1g,1a), Hogue (1g), Johnson (1g), Murphy (1g),Maher(1g), Reddish (1g), Yingling (1g), Haile (1a)
Saves: Branton: 4 saves/0 gaa; 1.000 save %; Speer: 1 save/1 gaa; .500 save %; Upton: 2 saves/3gaa; .400 save %
Face Offs: Pontiakos: 11/17; .647 win %
Any coach wants his team to get better each game and we’re living up to that hope. We played a more complete game vs ECU than in either of the two previous games. By complete game, I mean our game, focusing on what we do and executing it regardless of the opposition. I had an inkling that we’d be slow out of the blocks with all the “distractions” of the weekend, but we weathered that and from then on basically got better as the game wore on. Given the fact that we were well into the depth chart by then, this bodes very well. I was pleased to see everyone carry the play to the Pirates.
We got our 2nd win in our region with the victory over ECU so we’ve taken care of that business so far.
The scorebook doesn’t reflect it but at least 2 of ECU’s 4 goals came on man up situations (course we netted a few with the advantage at our end), but the point still remains that this was a solid 60 minute effort by the defense core of this team. Settled offense provided little opportunity for ECU and our poles did a great job in transition. Any game where you have 2 close D score goals with a goalie notching an assist is a game where you know your transition is firing on all cylinders.
Offensively we controlled time of possession, and I’m pleased with our patience as we worked for the quality opportunity. Again, we put up balanced numbers with 9 different players scoring goals (counting those defensemen) but our assist ratio fell off to 50% (6/12). In 3 games we’ve had 18 different players score goals. I’d hate to be a coach trying to figure out who is our go to guy on offense.
The team had a light week of practice this week, going Monday and Wednesday since we have no games this weekend. We resume the 2013 season next weekend in Atlanta. Not only will it be our first road trip, but we’ll be facing both a new-look Georgia Tech squad who’s been showing some offensive prowess as well as a Pitt team that qualified for the MCLA National Championships in 2012 and is ranked up near the top 10 in 2013. They also feature the preseason MCLA Player of the Year on attack. Although we’ve got our work cut out for us, I sense the team is ready to take this next step. We’ve had three games to learn from and now we need to take those lessons forward. I hope to see you all in Atlanta next weekend.
2012 Fall Ball Recap - Jan 10, 2013
CLEMSON MEN’S LACROSSE
2012 FALL BALL RECAP and A LOOK FORWARD
Late August and early September are good times of the year for college lacrosse coaches. It’s time to get back in the saddle so to speak, welcoming back the veterans, meeting the new guys, and dreaming of what might be. It’s also a bit bittersweet as there comes a sense of finality when you don’t see last year’s seniors in pinnies on the field. It’s true after all, they have moved on. But you don’t get much time to linger over memories as there’s new talent to assess as well as the need to see if the veterans have grown and improved.
As has been the case for quite a few years here at Clemson, the coaches were greeted by a lot of bodies at our first practice, probably close to 70 prospective and returning players. Our job got a little easier this year due to the addition of two new coaches to the staff. One, Ian Thompson, is very familiar to those of us who know Clemson Lacrosse. Ian played goal for Clemson for 4 years, making the All SELC team his senior year. After a year in the DC area, Ian got work in Greenville and has been rapidly drafted back into the “family.” It’s great that we now have a goalie coach to work with that all important position.
Kevin Murray is originally from Massachusetts and is an engineering grad student at Clemson. I guess Kevin feels he’s got a good enough handle on his studies in his second year to step out on the field and help us out. Kevin played defense at DIII St Vincent’s College in Pennsylvania and will be working on individual and team defense and I know Mike French is glad to have the assistance.
It was especially good to see the walking wounded from Spring, 2012 back out running around. In my now 19 years of coaching I’ve never had a season that approached that one in terms of injuries, particularly the volume of severe injuries the team incurred. Hopefully, that is behind us and whatever karma debt we owed has been fully satisfied.
As has been usual, the “hordes” of players on the first day of practice steadily thinned out, often before the coaches had the chance to put a name with a face or a particular helmet. This is always a source of mixed emotions, ranging from relief in the sense that there’s no way we can account for this number of players to wondering just who “got away” (not only in terms of talent but also thinking of freshmen who might have seen their transition to college smoothed over a bit by getting involved with this team. One always wonders…..).
Fall is important to us in that come spring time we usually have only 2 to 3 weeks of practice from 1st practice to 1st game. That doesn’t leave us much choice but to go to work in the fall installing our offense and defense, clears and rides, etc. Fortunately, what we’ve been doing has been pretty successful over the years so we can often go back to what we know. But still, you don’t want to get stale and you also need to adjust to the talent and skills on the field. To me, that’s one of the most engaging and challenging aspects of college club lacrosse. For a number of reasons, from funds to available time, we don’t have the means to get on the road and aggressively recruit specific players or positions. Rather, we respond to emails and phone calls from incoming freshmen and transfers, getting an idea of what positions they play but really having no idea of what they specifically bring to the table. Every year, part of the exercise is to assess these players and then modify our schemes to play to their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. We have no choice, we can’t go out and look for guys who fit what we do, our system has to adjust and change to accommodate our abilities.
Coming into this fall, we knew that the biggest questions were on offense. You don’t graduate two attackmen like Will Patch and Chris Buechele without feeling an impact considering the unlikelihood of having two successors in line simply to plug into place. We knew we needed to renew ourselves on offense coming in which will be an ongoing process. We haven’t jettisoned our old offense but are tweaking and adding dimensions to it to suit our current talents and inclinations. The cupboard is not bare by any means as we return a solid core of veterans and had a nice influx of fresh talent but again, when an offense runs through a couple of guys for 2 or 3 years and then those guys are gone, you might as well reconcile yourself to change and to some reorientation.
One big challenge we had with the offense this fall is the simple fact that we had to go up against our defense. We definitely expect our D to be key for us in 2013. One of the few benefits of all the injuries of 2012 is the fact that a lot of guys got experience they wouldn’t have had in a “normal” year. This season is when we should be able to take full benefit of that. We have a veteran group that have some miles under their belts and who know that it’s their turn to step up. We have also been blessed with as strong a group of new players as I’ve seen in my time at Clemson. There’s a lot of talent on defense this season and a lot of depth to boot, so much so that we will be looking at platooning defensive units this spring. By this, we look not to sub individual players but complete units at a time. The advantage is that each unit has the time and opportunity to work together, honing their skills to better play off each other and to make for a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
In between, we’ve got the midfielders and we knew that we had some holes to fill with the graduation of the likes of Jon Kilbourne, Will Thiede, Brian Livingston, Dan Huettenmoser, etc. Basically, it’s time for our returning veterans to step up and to look for new talent to step in. Fortunately, we saw good indications on both of those fronts this fall, returnees showing they are ready to take their place in the sun and new guys that have the abilities and attitudes to press for quality playing time. One of our ongoing challenges is to figure out who complements whom in this group and then put them in the best positions to succeed.
One of the biggest rule changes coming in for 2013 is the elimination of the subbing horn. All subs will be on the fly and personally, I like this. The intent is to speed the game up, reduce the time while offensive and defensive specialists exchange positions on the field, and I think the change will go a long way towards accomplishing this. We are expecting a renewed premium on the “old fashioned” 2-way middie who plays stout defense at one end and then hustles up field to get involved on offense. Fortunately, from what we’ve seen of this position on our team, I think we’re in pretty good shape. The players have responded to the fact that we are putting a priority on being effective at both ends. We’ve got a nice blend of players to work with in this regard.
In goal, we didn’t welcome any new talent in Fall 2012 but fortunately, this wasn’t a critical position of need for us as we return all of our keepers from 2012. I do think our goalies are pretty happy with the close defense we can put up in front of them this spring.
Game Recaps from Fall Ball 2012: You all have to understand that a lot of these recaps are at best anecdotal. We don’t put a big priority on stats in fall, not keeping close track on goals or assists or GBs, etc. What we’re looking for is the team starting to knit and work together. Please bear with me on this, frankly, I’m not even 100% sure of the final scores in a lot of cases.
After two weeks of practice, we had the honor of hosting Emmanuel College playing their first lacrosse game in school history. Emmanuel had applied to the SELC and was accepted as a Division II member. Emmanuel brought a team of 23 freshmen to Clemson and gave us a great opening game. We approached it kind of like a NFL preseason game, playing the veterans for a while before giving over to the new guys. Both sides of the team did their part with the old guys shutting out Emmanuel in the first half 5-0 and the new guys scoring 8 times in the 2nd half while allowing 3 goals. I was impressed with the sportsmanship and the respect shown by the Emmanuel players.
After another two weeks of practice, Georgia came to play at Clemson. As you might imagine, this one did mean something since the Bulldogs had hung one on us last Spring. Happily, this one saw the Tigers dominate for an 8-4 win. It was fun in that both teams let their starters have at it into the 2nd half and then almost by silent agreement turn the game over to their new players from there on out. I’m pleased to say it looks like we brought a bit more depth to the field as we set the pace from start to finish. It was also good that our new guys got a taste of SELC play.
Following Georgia, we expected a scrimmage with Wofford but that didn’t happen (such things happen in the fall), so our challenge became how to stay sharp with not playing outside competition for almost a month. The assistant coaches came up with a spirited intrasquad competition that kept everyone involved heading into the SOCO tournament the last weekend in October.
As is usual, SOCO capped off fall ball. For 2012 Clemson welcomed College of Charleston, Emmanuel, Appalachian State, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest (led by a coach by the name of Brett Becker – ring a bell?) to Nettles Park. On the high school side, we didn’t get the usual number of teams but we did have the honor of welcoming back the St Francis Xavier Lacrosse Academy from Edmonton, Canada for the 2nd year.
SOCO was nothing but close games for the Tigers. I think our 3 wins were all by a goal and we ended up tied in the last game with Wake. Only disturbing trend to all that for a coaching staff is the question if this is a tendency to play to the level of your competition? In games with Emmanuel, App State, College of Charleston, and Wake Forest, the Tigers got off to fast start and the lead only to see the other teams fight their way back into it. All credit to those teams for certain but come Spring, we’ll need to know how to put teams away.
Regardless, we got a lot of playing time for everyone on the team over the weekend and that’s ultimately the point of it all. Coaches got to see guys play against outside competition as well as with different teammates; we learn a lot.
Naturally, the big game for the weekend and the fall is our virtually annual match up with Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon. VT missed SOCO in 2011 but has been part of every other SOCO. This year the Tigers were defending a 2 year SOCO winning streak over the Hokies. Things didn’t start out well for Clemson as we fell behind 3-0 and 5-2 early and late in the first half. We were still down 7-5 at the end of the 3rd quarter but you could sense that there was some momentum building. We were starting to take the play to VT and dominating time of possession. We started breaking through early in the 4th and went on a 4 goal streak to go up 9-7 with a little over a minute left. The Hokies got one back on an EMO goal in the final minute but the Tigers were able to run out the clock and notch the W.
You gotta love the never-say-die effort our players gave in this game. Naturally, you hope that we don’t make that an every game occurrence, kind of a live by the sword/ die by the sword scenario, not enough margin of error there for me. I do think we’re still finding our stride, especially since it looks like a lot of new guys will be playing important roles for us this Spring. Fortunately, it’s not like they’ll be carrying the heavy load as we’ve got the veterans to do the heavy lifting at the start of the season. All in all, I’m optimistic, I think this will be a fun bunch to work with and think they will successfully continue the tradition of Clemson Lacrosse in 2013.
I’d like to congratulate seniors Ryan Conlon, Mike DiRocco, James McLoughlin, and Brian Murphy on their selection as 2013 team captains. I think we’re in very good hands with this group and expect that they, in conjunction with the team officers (President Mike Maher, Vice-President Kyle Stinchcomb, Treasurer Lex Smit, and Secretary Mike Schwartz) will do their parts in making this coming season one to remember.
As usual, the Clemson Lacrosse Booster Club rose to the occasion and made SOCO not only a successful event onsite but also in terms of support for the team. It’s great that SOCO gives the team parents an ideal opportunity to reconnect and in many ways, first-connect through the Saturday night social. On Friday night, parents and coaches were treated to a presentation by Dr. George Smith of Clemson depicting the new club sports fields envisioned for the YMCA property across the lake from the Rowing Center. It truly looks like this may well become a reality as it’s been endorsed by the University and is in the fund raising stage. Our Clemson Lacrosse Booster Club has been advocating for this facility for years and much credit is due to them for continuing to push the idea forward. It has to be gratifying for them to see it reach this point. Well done to all!
Speaking on behalf of the coaches, we’re all looking forward to the upcoming season and hope that we will deserve the continued support and enthusiasm of the Clemson Lacrosse family in 2013. Our first game action will be a scrimmage against DII Limestone College in Greenville at the Kroc Center on Sunday, February 3rd at 2 pm. League action begins the following week when we host North Carolina State at Clemson. We look forward to seeing everyone throughout the 2013 season and thank you for your continued support for Clemson Lacrosse. Family weekend will be held on the weekend of February 15-17. I do hope that you will make plans to attend.
New Defensive Assistant Coach - Oct 17, 2012
For Immediate Release:
KEVIN MURRAY JOINS CLEMSON MEN’S LACROSSE AS DEFENSIVE ASSISTANT COACH
Clemson, SC: Clemson Men’s Lacrosse is pleased to announce that Kevin Murray has joined the program as an assistant coach focusing on the Tiger defense. Coach Murray, a Massachusetts native, graduated from Charlotte Catholic in North Carolina and played collegiately for St. Vincent College, a NCAA DIII program in Latrobe, PA. Murray saw the field all 4 years at St. Vincent and was a starter at close defense his junior and senior years. Coach Murray is a second year graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at Clemson.
“We’re very pleased to have Kevin join us on the sidelines this year,” said Clemson head coach Buff Grubb. “We anticipate that defense will be a strength of this year’s team and being able to take advantage of Kevin’s experience and expertise in this regard will help elevate that end of the field all the more. Kevin will assist defense coordinator Mike French with team defense and we’ve asked him to focus on individual technique as well. That’s one of the luxuries that having a deep coaching staff allows and we want to take full advantage of it.”
Clemson men’s lacrosse concludes its 2012 Fall Ball season by hosting its 6th annual Southern Comfort Tournament at Nettles’ Park in Clemson on Saturday, 10/27 and Sunday, 10/28. The Tigers will host Appalachian State, Emmanuel College, College of Charleston, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest in a round robin format tournament. Clemson is currently 2-0 in fall scrimmages with wins over Emmanuel College and the University of Georgia.
For more information on Clemson men’s lacrosse and the Southern Comfort Tournament, contact team president, Michael Maher at firstname.lastname@example.org, coach Buff Grubb at email@example.com, or visit the team website: www.laxteams.net/clemson.
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